Pirates, Mermaids, Monsters, Oh My! || Monstress, Vol. 2 Review

Initial Thoughts: 

Can this get any more EPIC? The answer is YES. There are pirates and animalistic Arcanics (THERE’S A SHARK GIRL WHAT) and old gods that eerily remind me of Alucard’s crazy demon form in Hellsing. And lawd, when’s the next set coming out because MORE PLS.


by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda (illustrator)
Image Comics, July 2017
Graphic novel, science fiction, fantasy, steampunk
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

The Eisner-nominated MONSTRESS is back! Maika, Kippa, and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat. Collects MONSTRESS #7-12.

I don’t think I’ve fallen so hard and so fast over a comics series than I had with Monstress, and honestly, it’s largely to do with the two amazing women who’ve brought this story to life on the illustrated medium. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are mistresses of their craft, and together they managed to convey a wonderful story of a powerful girl in a world still reeling from the previous war and yet gearing for a new one.

The story follows after Volume 1 (Issues 1-6) and picks up the pace, sending Maika, Kippa, and Ren south to Thyria, Maika’s hometown. There, Maika regroups and enlists the help of pirates to ferry her further south, to the Cape of Bones, a place where Moriko Halfwolf had once traveled. To gain more information of the monster inside her, Maika follows her mother’s footsteps–and obsession with the legendary Shaman Princess–south, encountering dangers along the way, as well as a deeper understanding of how to control the Monstrum within.

As can normally be found in most first volumes, the first six issues of Monstress dealt with throwing as much information our way as possible. While Liu and Takeda managed to convey the information in creative ways (including a little professor-student talking panel every issue for the heavier worldbuilding aspects), most of the first volume was truly introductory. Yes, the second volume also deals with the addition of new characters, but by this point, we are familiar with a bit of the world and there’s less explaining to do. So for the most part, we can sit back and enjoy the story.

Well, sort of.

Then Liu comes around and throws us for a loop and we start to devour the next bits of fantastical element thrown our way. In this case, the sea Arcanics.

Yes, we saw the awesomeness of the Fox Queen and the Monkey King and by that point we are unsurprised by the group of “nekomancers” littering the pages (I mean, Ren is one of them…). But a motherfrelling Arcanic shark? Mermaids and sirens and bone-chilling sea creatures of doom? Hell yes!

Not to mention dapper ex-pirate lions and tigers, who, by the way, are friggin’ AWESOME.

I don’t know how they’re not super-hot in those outfits, I would be if I was sporting that much fur in my body. That said, CAN I GET THEIR CLOTHES? I’d so wear the shmat out of them.

And, because we needed more badass females, throw in a female captain in the mix.

Of course, the issues don’t just deal with Maika’s story, though hers takes center stage for the most part. Characters introduced in the previous issues–such as the Cumaea and the Dawn and Dusk Courts–recur in the next several issues, and while Maika’s journey is largely one of self-discovery, we have several other characters mobilized to find her. Chief among them is the Sword of the East, who is revealed to be Maika’s sole living relative, an aunt who had been unaware of her presence. The Cumaea is still after Maika’s Monstrum, while others seek to destroy her.

It’s no wonder Maika broods all the time. Shes’ got a shitton of people coming after her, and to add cherry to her fantastic life, the ravenous monster inside her is getting stronger and stronger, almost to the brink of being out of control.

And yet, she still has that sass that made me love her in the beginning issues.

The second volume is chock-full of action, and more of the story is revealed to the reader, including a back story of the old gods that used to live in the known world. If you thought the first volume was epic, the second one blows it out of the water. Hem hem.

And honestly, those issue cover illustrations.

I cannot gush enough about this volume of Monstress. I highly recommend it, for story, for female badassery, for a world that’s a mix of everything I love about fantasy/scifi worldbuilding. Now I feel like the Monstrum, because this series is making me insatiable. I want more please!

5 out of 5 cookies!

This counts as #11 of the Graphic Novels/Manga Reading Challenge and #4 of the Steampunk Reading Challenge.

Have you read this series? What did you think?


Review: Saga, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

First off, Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans who celebrate! Most of y’all are probably busy either preparing for the night ahead or already eating with family and friends. I, for one, have been eyeing the turkey that’s been marinating in carbonated soda for a day and a half. Also, considering this is a scheduled post, it is more than likely I’ve gone off to cook and/or bake stuff for the weekend. Omnomnom, food.

Anyway, speaking of family-related things…

I had intended to write mini-reviews for graphic novels that continue a series. I’d done one of Saga as an overview a while back, but I just couldn’t resist doing one of the second volume, because things just got BETTER. Also, I loved this volume much more, and when was a better time to write a review than on a day where I’m thankful for my family?


Say what you want about my choice of snapshots, but seriously, seeing this in the volume made me respond with: “Oh. Why yes, Marko. Yes, I WILL.”


written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples
Image Comics, 2013
Graphic novel, space opera
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookierating / 5 cookies

sagaSAGA is a sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and horrific monsters, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters her strangest adventure yet… grandparents.

Jumbly Thoughts

The end of the first volume gave quite a bit of character introduction and prominent storylines: Hazel’s grandparents show up at the very end, The Will is trying to save a girl from a sex trafficking planet (and mourning the loss of his ex-lover), and Prince Robot IV is on the hunt for Marko and Alana, much like every other person in the frelling universe. Volume 2 has Hazel recounting the very moments where her parents fall in love, as well as continuing the story of what happened after Marko and Alana encounter Marko’s parents. Talk about trying to please the in-laws.

What I do love about this series is that it has the perfect amount of romance, tear-jerking tragedy, suspense, and humor all wrapped within a couple hundred pages of narrated illustration. It’s really difficult to find this kind of balance, and I think Saga has been able to hit every single one of my “kudos” points in my mental story rubric.


From the meet-cute to the present predicament (which resulted in Hazel being born and the couple going on the run), Marko and Alana have the most adorable interactions. It’s easy to see that they’re supposed to be on opposite sides of the war, yet I can’t help but love their Romeo and Juliet-esque coupling. I don’t even like the story of Romeo and Juliet, but on occasion I find the star-crossed lovers theme pretty epic.



Then you have the randomest shmat like this happening in the middle of a romantic scene and the mood is quickly over, replaced by laughable–and a little disturbing–images. I can tell you right now that reading Saga on a train WILL result in stares from strangers. I couldn’t even say how many times I’ve chuckled loudly after reading a panel.


All in all, though, I feel like this is the next comics series I’m going to try to peddle to friends and family members. Not so much my writing students, ’cause, ya know, it’s pretty far from age appropriate. BUT OMG THIS SERIES IS AMAZING.


This is totally me trying to get my friends to read Saga. The reaction at the bottom right is how I’m thinking my friends will look after I fangirl over the series.

5 out of 5 cookies!